When can I ask to be paid for my performances?

By Allison OuthitI'm an up and coming recording artist who takes his music seriously, meaning I pay the right money to have my product have quality sound and overall good delivery. I'm no superstar (well I am in my own right but not a big name star) but do put a lot of work in my music and would like to know when is right for me to ask/demand money for my performances at local gigs and venues without coming off as money-hungry moron? Do I need a manager to negotiate these deals? I found out this woman I know who sings jazz and gets $200 every Tuesday for two months for singing at this local bar that has live singers and bands and let's just say she's no Celine Dion. What gives?


The short answer is, when you can draw a crowd, you can draw a paycheck. The longer answer is that bars and other venues that book live music are counting on the act to bring in a thirsty crowd. They make their money on bar and food sales, not on ticket sales. So the right time for you to start demanding to be paid is the moment you prove you can bring people in the front door ― and not drive them out again! If you are an unknown entity and it's not guaranteed that tons of people will come see you, the venue owner might start off offering you a share of door sales rather than a guarantee. That's pretty standard. Just make sure to agree that he or she can't dip into the door sales to pay for the bartender or the bouncer. That's not standard. Everything else directly related to putting on the show, like who pays for the backline and sound mixer, for example, is a matter of negotiation and should be sorted out before the show.

Questions may be edited for space or content. Replies do not constitute legal advice and Exclaim! makes no guarantees about information accuracy.
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Article Published In Sep 11 Issue